Spurs boss: We must ensure we are ready to capitalise if Chelsea slip up

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham must stay in the second spot and ensure they are the best-placed team to challenge Chelsea if the Premier League leaders stumble.

While Spurs were held to a disappointing goalless draw at Sunderland on Tuesday night, they still overtook Arsenal – who suffered a home defeat against Watford – and moved into the runners-up spot on goal difference.

Chelsea have a nine-point lead at the top but they face Arsenal in Saturday’s early fixture – a game that will be of great interest to Tottenham, who are sandwiched between the two sides.

However, Pochettino wants his players to focus on their own game against Middlesbrough at White Hart Lane and make sure they are ready to take advantage of any slip-ups from Antonio Conte’s Blues.

“For me the most important thing is to be ready to take the possibility if Chelsea give the possibility,” he said. “Last season, we arrived at the last game second in the table but we finished third. If the possibility was to win the league we would have missed the possibility.

“We have to be ready, it is up to us. All that we can do for us is to be there if the possibility exists. If not, ok. If Chelsea drop their performance and their results we need to ready to take their place. That is one lesson we learned from last season.

“It is about us, always. If Chelsea lose, we need to make sure that another team doesn’t take our place. Now we are second, we need to keep that. Tomorrow we have a very good opportunity.”

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Spurs had a similar chance to close in on Chelsea earlier this week but, when their London rivals drew 1-1 at Liverpool on Tuesday, the Lilywhites were held to a 0-0 draw by the league’s bottom side.

“Look at what happened against Sunderland,” said the Argentinian. “It was a big opportunity for us to reduce the gap and weren’t capable of winning the game.

“That’s why, for me, it’s always about focusing on us and showing in the end that we deserve to win the game and get the three points. Then we see what happens in other stadiums and other games.

“I don’t care about another team and the result of Chelsea against Arsenal. It’s important for us to improve, to show we can be real contenders for the title.

“I am very focused on trying to improve because after the last game I’m not so happy - I think in the first 45 minutes against Sunderland our performance wasn’t good and we were poor. We need to show against Middlesbrough from the first minute that we deserve to win the game and do our job.

“We have, after just a few days, another opportunity to change the feeling from Tuesday, but the opportunity you miss never comes back.

“We can console ourselves, to say ‘ok maybe the [other teams] drew and every team struggled to compete’ but for me that excuse is not good for us.

“I don’t like to allow us to make excuses and that’s why for me Saturday is a big opportunity to show a different performance and be more aggressive from the beginning and try to win.

“At the end it’s a game you can win or you can lose, but not how we showed in the first half against Sunderland. You can accept winning or losing but in a different way.”

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